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Pennsylvania School Board Reinstates Gay Author’s Speech Amid Backlash

U.S.Pennsylvania School Board Reinstates Gay Author’s Speech Amid Backlash

Less than two weeks after a Pennsylvania school board unanimously voted to cancel a gay author’s anti-bullying speech at a middle school, the board voted Wednesday night to reverse its decision and reinstate the event amid pressure from parents, students and administrators.

The 5-to-4 vote by the Cumberland Valley School District’s board came in front of scores of community members who packed a high school auditorium and, for several hours, chastised the board for having canceled the event featuring the actor and author Maulik Pancholy over what they said were homophobic concerns.

Bud Shaffner, a board member who had come under fire for introducing the motion at the April 15 meeting to cancel the speech, apologized for his comments about Mr. Pancholy’s “lifestyle.” He later introduced the motion to reinstate the speech and voted for it.

“I will accept the blame because of the insensitive word I spoke on April 15,” he said at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting. “I fully understand the interpretation of my poor word choice.”

Many community members who spoke during the public comment period of Wednesday’s meeting rejected the contention by some board members that Mr. Pancholy’s speech had been canceled over concerns about what they called his “political activism.”

“To claim that Maulik Pancholy is a political activist and use that as a justification to cancel his event is an excuse that the public sees through,” one person told the board.

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